The Rajya Sabha debate on Kashmir has led to the union government agreeing to initiate political dialogue with mainstream political parties, “moderates” and “other organisations” in the state. The government has also agreed to consider the Opposition demand for sending an all-party delegation to Kashmir but argued that some groundwork needed to be done before the visit for a positive outcome. And importantly, an all party meeting is being held today on the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance. The home minister Rajnath Singh also indicated talks with Pakistan but only on the “other Kashmir”. Singh once again reiterated that Pakistan was engineering and fanning the ongoing unrest in Valley. He had also a terse response to the recent remarks on Kashmir made by the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying “no power on earth can take Kashmir away from us”. Overall, Singh stuck to the line that he has toed since the unrest broke out in Kashmir following July 8 killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in an encounter with government forces.
There were, however, some bold speeches from some members which called for a fresh thinking on the state and the need to resolve the lingering historical problem. One such speech was by the former J&K Sadr-e-Riyasat Dr Karan Singh. The son of the last Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh was candid in his observations. He called on New Delhi to “bite the bullet and resolve Kashmir”. He said Kashmir had only acceded with India and not merged, even underscoring that the accession was for three subjects only – Defence, Communications and Foreign Affairs. He insisted that Kashmir had an international dimension in defiance of the reigning conventional wisdom in Delhi – albeit in his opinion, it was about the Pakistan Administered Kashmir and the areas of Kashmir under China.
But as looks likely now, New Delhi is all set to embark on a set of exercises which are a throwback to 2010. An all party delegation is likely to visit the Valley in near future. Similarly, according to home minister, talks with the stake-holders in the state, possibly involving the separatists – “other organizations” – are on anvil. Both exercises are of fire-fighting nature. Though, the government wants some groundwork to be done before the all-party visit, the exercise will hardly achieve anything unless the government is clear about a political roadmap to resolve the situation. And let alone a roadmap, New Delhi is not ready to acknowledge that there is a problem in Kashmir And the bit of an issue in Kashmir that it is ready to concede, it considers sponsored by Pakistan or instigated by some local vested interests. So far, the only immediate and even the long term goal seems to be to somehow get a handle on the current troubled situation and see that the peace is restored. But with this ad-hoc and short term thinking apparent to the pro-freedom groups in Kashmir, they are unlikely to meet either the all party delegation or hold talks with the centre. More so, when 2010 example is still afresh. Then the initiatives announced to apparently find a solution to the issues facing the state were quickly abandoned when the situation returned to the normal. So, the centre has to really come up with something serious and substantive if the objective is a long term peace in the state. Anything other than that shall be regarded as nothing more than a trickery.
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